A New Era.

Last summer an Instagram account I follow, whose creator (a local artist) captures forest fungi and other specimens, featured a photo of a mushroom I’d never heard of before. Laccaria amethystina, the amethyst deceiver.

In addition to it being a purple mushroom, which is already mysterious and cool, the name arrested me at first sight. Quick research showed me that it is so called due to its tendency to change appearance drastically over its lifespan. In addition, there are rich metaphorical overtones in the fact that, while it is not naturally poisonous, if it grows in arsenic-heavy soil, it is basically a sponge for the toxin. It becomes harmful as a result of its environment.

I’m sure you’re ahead of me, but this seemed like a novel angle from which to tackle my pet thematic obsessions. The destructive mechanisms we develop in childhood that kick off cycles of poor communication and failed relationships. Self-deception and sabotage. Imposter syndrome. Abuse of power. Harmful subcultures. The amethyst deceiver construct is rife for all.

So it was that Sold Kingdom’s sophomore album was born. Twelve songs were composed between December 2021 and now, and a week ago, I began recording. I am aiming for an October 2022 release date. I haven’t yet decided how much outside help I might solicit, and for what, but I am amped.

At the same time, I am nearing the end of five weeks of training on a totally new policy administration system at work. The rollout, which will hit one area first and be deployed gradually over the better part of a decade, has been under construction for several years. It comes after thirteen prior attempts to modernize a system that dates back to the 70s. Mind you, this is a company just about to turn 100 years old. (When I began my affiliation with them, it was only 85 years old, which is terrifying.)

The extended respite from call center life has been welcome, though not without its own special stresses, like being expected to manage one’s own time while reading dust-dry process guides all day. Unfortunately, the prize I will receive for crossing this finish line will be more phone calls – but solely those related to this new behemoth. As ever, in the absence of any better ideas, I am trying to focus on the positives: fielding questions pertaining to a single sales territory instead of twenty-one different sales territories; the continued ability to work from home (a few feet from my home recording station); and my inherent value to the company as someone positioned right at the forefront of its new direction. Whether the rewards that come with that balance out the increased pressure to be a high performer under difficult conditions, regurgitate information I had dumped on me in ways antithetical to my preferred learning style, and effectively act as an expert on things I am by no means an expert on, remains to be seen.

It occurs to me a little amethyst-deception (read: improbably radical transformation from one thing into a whole other thing) would serve me well right about now.

None of these photos are mine. They are all, however, various incarnations of the amethyst deceiver.

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